Underneath my yellow skin

Bloodborne: The Pits of Despair

I’m in the last quarter of Bloodborne (not including the DLC), and to be frank, I hate it right now. I’m battling two optional bosses, and they’re both roundly kicking my ass. They both seem fleetingly doable until they stomp me into the ground, and I leave the fight emotionally battered. Daughter of Ebrietas and Martyr Logarius. They are my personal nightmare for several reasons, which I’ll get into later.

I get this way near the end of almost every Souls game. I remember how much I hated the second half of the first game, and how once I beat it, I almost quit the series for good. I felt the same way during the DLC for DS II, which I still hate. In DS III, it was the DLC as well, specifically The Ringed City. I actually cried in frustration at times, and I still have very complicated feelings about it. It was much easier as a tank (at least until soloing the last boss on NG+), which is another thing that is the problem now. I started with an arcane build because it’s the closest thing to magic this game has. The spells in this game are called Hunter Tools, and I’ve used them to good effect. Except. They’re mostly trash against bosses, especially bosses who are high in arcane themselves, which both the optional bosses I’m currently facing are. So, they’re no use to me with my problems right now, which is frustrating. I have 40 points in arcane, and I’m at level…82? 83? Something like that. It means I don’t have much wiggle room with the rest of my stats. That means I didn’t pump levels into strength for my Hunter Axe, and my health and endurance are lower than I’d like them to be.

Another problem is that I still am not great at parrying. I’m better than in Souls games because the parry window is more generous, but I’m still not consistent with it. One of the best ways to beat Martyr Logarius is to parry/backstab him, neither of which I do that often. I probably should practice until I get consistent, but it’s a reflex thing. I could try using my Augur of Ebrietas on him because it stuns enemies which allows me to follow with a visceral or a backstab, but it also pushes someone away from me, so the timing is difficult. I’m old, people. I went through all the Souls games not parrying, which was one of my concerns for this game.

I also was able to…not traipse but make steady progress through the game up until now. I don’t know if it’s because I had watched so many playthroughs; it’s been hard, but not too grueling–until now. I’ve killed a few bosses first try, and most of them took under ten (which is really good for me), and I didn’t have *too* much trouble with the hunters scattered throughout the game. I felt as if I was making decent progress more days than not, which is all I ask in my Souls games.

Now, though, I’m not having any fun playing the game. I should say, I rarely have fun in the traditional sense while playing a Souls game, but I don’t even have the satisfaction of feeling as if I’m making real progress. One of the tricks to feeling good while playing a Souls game is to identify something positive you’ve done in a session. The problem is (for me, anyway), if the negatives outweigh the positives by a lot, I tend to view the session as worthless. Yesterday, I tried each boss several times, only getting more frustrated as I did. I did try the Old Hunter summon for Ebrietas the day before yesterday three or four times, and while he helped, I still died. I don’t like summoning my first time through, but I also don’t like feeling as if I’m stuck.

In other Souls games, I would just beat my head against a certain boss until I beat it. I would take as many tries as I could stand in a day, and then I would do it again. In this game, having to farm for blood every few tries really puts a damper on the whole process. I want to just keep going until I beat the boss. I don’t want to have to run through Central Yharnam and the Forbidden Woods just so I can get blood vials (and Blood Echoes so I can beef up). I’ve said before that I don’t mind that grinding is an option in Souls games. I’ve used it many times before, and it’s been a godsend. However, *having* to grind between boss attempts because I need heals is a whole different thing, and it’s one of my biggest complaints in this game. Again, I understand not wanting to give 20 vials automatically every time the player dies because that would be too much, but not giving any back feels unnecessarily harsh. I think starting with even five every time after death would mitigate this feeling. As it is, I know going into my session today that the first part of it will be me grinding for vials. It doesn’t make me enthused to start up the PS4, I’ll tell you that much.

My other biggest gripe is with the summoning system. In other Souls games, if you wanted to summon someone, you’d pop a humanity/human effigy/ember and see all the summon signs magically appear around you. If you’re like me and many other Souls players,  you immediately touch all the signs to see which one you like best. It’s a great system. I love it so hard. In this game, you ring your beckoning bell, and you wait. And wait. And wait. You don’t have any control over who you summon (if I am reading it correctly. I have yet to try–I’ve only summoned Old Hunters), and you have to use an insight just to ring the bell. If you don’t get an answering chime, well, you’re SOL with that insight, son! I don’t like it. I’m a hoarder of humanities/human effigies/embers, and I hate having to use one. It would feel even worse not to get a response because then I will feel like I’ve totally wasted one insight.

One solution to that is to use my Small Resonant Bell and be summoned into other people’s world to help with the boss/area. I put my soapstone sign down in Souls games when I had trouble with a boss, then if I help them beat the boss, I became human, which meant summoning someone in my game didn’t  cost me anything (in my mind). It also allowed me to see the boss and practice against it so even if I didn’t summon when I returned to my world, I had a better grasp on how the fight should go. In this case, because I’m in the The League covenant, I’ll get vermin as a reward along with the insight, and if I crush five of them, Valtr’s quest will be done. He’s the head of The League, and he’ll disappear. When I go outside after this, there will be a hunter who will attack me. If I can kill  him, then I will get the Madaras Whistle, which will allow me summon snakes from the ground. Which, by the way, is fucking badass.

I could also do the Chalice Dungeons to get  more levels. You get many Blood Echoes doing the dungeons, but you also have to use many blood vials, obviously. I just learned there’s an armor set in the dungeons–the witch set. Bone Ash Set. Which, I mean, yeah, I need that. The witch set is my favorite armor in the Souls game, and WE WANTS IT PRECIOUS. I did the first level of the first dungeon, and it’s interesting. I beat the boss (the Undead Giant) first try, but with very few blood vials when I was finished. I tried the second dungeon, but gave up when I ran out of vials.

I also have the DLC which needs to be done before the final boss. (Second to final, really, because secret ending.) It’s notorious for being difficult, and some people say Kos, er, think the final boss of the DLC is the hardest in the entire series (this was before DS III came out, remember). I’m not looking forward to it. All the DLCs of the previous games have drained me, and I think they’re more about being brutally hard than anything else. Despite what people think about the difficulty of the original game*, it’s peanuts compared to the DLC and all future DLCs. Except Ornstein & Smough. They’re still legends, deservedly so. The DLC are for the hardcore fans, and before you say it, I’m a hardcore fan only in my love for Souls games. I’m not a hardcore fan in that I’m any good at them. My biggest problem with The Ringed City (final Souls DLC ever (ha, right!)) is that it’s for the onebros who go through the game naked, wielding a broken hilt, playing with a Guitar Hero controller. The ones who litter the forums and brag about how easy all the bosses are in all the games ever.

I’m mad at myself because I knew before starting the game that an arcane build is trash in this game. I knew that magic as it were wasn’t viable, and yet, I did it, anyway, because that’s how I roll. I always play as a caster first, and I wasn’t going to be swayed from that, nosiree. I started a melee playthrough, but I chose the Saw Cleaver instead of the Hunter Axe because I didn’t want to be boring. The Saw Cleaver is trash, though, and I quickly switched over to the Saw Spear. I like the Saw Spear, though I am not a spear gal in general. I bought the Kirkhammer as soon as I could (which was after beating the Cleric Beast), and I’m going to main that for now. I know it’s boring as well, but there aren’t that many choices for weaponry in this game, and blamming the hell out of enemies *is* satisfying. It’s weird going back to being so fragile, though. Running through Central Yharnam, I have to remember that I *can’t* kill things in one try, and I have to be careful of mobs.

I summoned Gascoigne for the Cleric Beast fight just for funsies, and he died on the way the first time. On my next run, I cleared the path beforehand so he would actually make it to the fight, and then he lasted the whole fight! He was down to a sliver of health with a fourth of the way to go, but he managed to gut it out. It was pretty great, even if he was little more than a meatshield. It made me smile to fight next to him, but it wasn’t as much fun to go up against him, I’ll tell you what. I got him down to about three more hits to kill him, and then he got me. I stopped after that, but, yeah. I may pick it up again, especially if I get too frustrated with my arcane run.

Another problem is my stubbornness about summoning. It’s part of the game. I should just do it and not be so miserable. Yet, I feel like I *have* to beat each boss solo. It’s an honor thing with me, and it’s making me miserable. Will I finish the game? Yeah, probably. I don’t think you can summon for the last boss, but I might be wrong. I’m feeling pretty down about myself right now, but that’s also part of the late-game Souls process for me.



*Haven’t played Demon’s Souls, so I mean Dark Souls.

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